From College to the 'Pen?
It looks more and more like a certain pitcher who pitched last year in college is going to be added to the 40-man roster, and brought north to Seattle. Evidently, there's a need for an extra arm in the bullpen -- one that will be effective, since the other 'pen arms had pretty shaky Springs. Even with the talk that they weren't going to rush players like they did last year, it seems that was merely double-speak.
I've been pretty clear that I side with those who would prefer to have Morrow in the minors getting a little more seasoning, and trying to find a fungible reliever for the 'pen on the scrap heap. But today's game reminded me that, just like in Return of the Jedi when Vader realizes Luke has a sibling, there is an alternative within the M's system that could make sense to plug the perceived hole in the bullpen. No, I'm not talking about Morrow's sister -- I have no clue whether or not he even has a sister, but I'm confident that if he does, she's not pitching in the M's minor leagues.
In some ways, I'm a little ashamed for not having thought of this sooner. But, hey, it hadn't really crossed my mind that the M's might seriously consider bringing one of their 2006 draftees up to Seattle to start 2007. That in & of itself threw me for enough of a loop, that
I'd completely forgotten another option that, like Morrow, was drafted in 2006 out of college. In his pro time, too, he's breezed thorough his innings. Unlike Morrow, however, he truly was drafted to develop as a relief pitcher.
I thought I might be able to wait just a little bit longer to say this, but in the USSM discussion on today's roster news and informal game thread, I had to say it when he came in to clean up Mumba Rivera's mess -- which had become officially a save situation:
Free Austin Bibens-Dirkx.
I know there's no chance in heck that it happens. I doubt that Austin has caught Hargrove's eye like Brandon has. I’m not necessarily saying that Austin is ready for the bigs, nor that he's as ready or more ready than Brandon, but I would say that there’s a lot more evidence that suggests Bibens-Dirkx is at least as ready than Morrow is. Churchill said today on Softy’s show that Austin was hitting 90-94 (11:15-11:20 into the Real Audio clip), which, from a sidearmer is even more rare than 96-98 from a ‘normal’ pitcher. Then there's the fact that he has 3x the pro innings/appearances that Morrow does. While he didn’t come out of the Pac-10, he still pitched in college, and pretty much blew through A ball last year. He's also shown quite a decent amount of control, and in his 2-inning stint in AAA (where I saw him pitch in person), he struck out 5 Portland Beavers. What, two weeks after being drafted? Yeeesh.
The difference is in the fact that Morrow is a flamethrower, and Bibens-Dirkx is a 'mere' sidearmer, drafted 450 or so dudes later, and therefore hasn’t received the royal treatment or caught the eye of Hargrove. But, while I can probably lay claim to being the first Austin Bibens-Dirkx fan in the blogosphere, I'm certainly not alone. I know Churchill's a fan -- as evidenced by the clip from Monday's KJR show and other reasons -- I just would like to see a lot more of the M's decision makers think outside the box a little and see that Austin might not be a bad option to take north with them.
But, then, I also wouldn't've traded Soriano for Ramirez to create this 'mess' in the first place...
Final note -- it's also pretty apparent that George Sherrill has made the club, in spite of yet another shaky spring. I'm planning on making a side trip over to the 'pen to congratulate him on Monday.